Things I Didn’t Expect To Learn From Painting My House

Taking a shower, a walk, or anything done regularly on autopilot, are ideal for letting your mind figure things out. Painting is a repetitive task that doesn’t require too much attention. Except on the edges of windows, doors or skirting.

In the process of painting our house I learned about my process. I’d thought before about why I do things, but not the way I do them.

I start and start again

When I get new ideas I get really excited about them. What a great idea to do the painting ourselves — we’ll save money, and appreciate it more if we put in the effort.

Often my attempts to actually start are promptly intercepted by a hot new idea…

However, when I started to prep for painting, which took longer than expected, I managed to remain enthusiastic.

When the painting began, like any new thing, at first it was exciting; seeing the walls transform was motivating.

Not long after, looking around at the amount of work ahead was demoralising. The thoughts:

Why am I doing this? I’m bored and I can’t be bothered”

began to fill my mind. Fortunately this task needed to be completed; I had to find a way to push on.

Changing challenges is like new ideas

I found myself creating little challenges to get through: Get to the next window before I stop. Do the tricky bits first, the rest will be easy. Do the big surfaces so there is a sense of progress. Do it in order so I know exactly where I’m at. Do it in pieces so I don’t get bored.

If one challenge wasn’t working I’d try another. The constant change was like many new ideas, refreshing my incentive each time.

Once in flow it’s an easy downhill ride to the finish

I became so motivated to complete this self-appointed task that I got up before anyone else in my house, on a Sunday morning to do so.

It’s the same story every time

When I wanted to write this blog-post, I was excited about the idea, then I had a different idea. I have created changing challenges to get through the editing and re-writing phase. On the home-run to finishing I am completely focussed and invested in completing it.

The way I approached this particular job of painting my house, is in fact, the way I approach everything.

If you can see your pattern of doing things, your story — just once, you will know exactly how you work every time. The circumstances will change, but the set-up, confrontations and resolution will be similar.

Default mode is laziness

There are a lot of things we have to do in life, even when we don’t want to we make ourselves do them. Why is it when we find something we want to do, we also find many ways to procrastinate? It seems insane, especially when we know how happy completion will make us.

Is it some strange act of rebellion — if it’s something I have the power to choose then I choose to fail at it? Do I not want to be happy? I suspect it is most likely I’m lazy. And I’m excellent at procrastination.

Name it and I can change it.

I’ve acknowledged that, now I can deal with it.

I will be my toughest taskmaster

I had to work within the constraints of my mindset to figure out how to finish the job. Knowing that was key. Like knowing who your competition is gives you an advantage: you learn their weak points.

I am my own competition.

Know what motivates you out of your fear or laziness, know how to navigate the obstacles you give yourself, and you will achieve greatness.

I am a good painter

If you were wondering, my lounge looks amazing.

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